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A Day in the Life of Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat, what do you think of this shoppers’ stop? Despite staying in Delhi for over five years, I have been to Dilli Haat about three times (and twice in the last two years). It is situated near the INA metro station, which connects the yellow and pink lines of the Delhi metro. As you walk from the metro station, you come across a ticket counter, where you have to buy tickets priced at Rs. 30 to enter the market.

The last visit was sudden because this time, we (a bunch of friends) went to get the Canadian currency exchanged for Indian rupees. And as they say, it is in unexpectedness one finds inspiration for writing. I have delayed writing this essay for quite some time now—but I hope that the freshness of the content is not disturbed as a result.

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A stall at Dilli Haat selling shawls, sarees, kurta and lehenga.

Dilli Haat, INA – Landscape

Dilli Haat is curiously blended with colours, making it one of the most aesthetically pleasing marketplaces. While the market is planned so that the shops are lined along the path on both sides, the crowd always makes the market all the more exciting for you to take a stroll.

Moreover, go a little before or during winter—and you won’t regret it one bit. However, in summer, it gets especially difficult for you to survive the Delhi heat.

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An image of the event at Durga Pujo celebrations at Dilli Haat

As you enter the market, you are welcomed by people who would want to braid your hair into colourful threads. Then, there are a couple of vendors that have spread their wares at the entrance of the market. Frame paintings are hung on the wall, and crafty artefacts are displayed exquisitely. Move a little further, and you see many pashmina shawls on display.

A little further, you will see lots of colourful shirts (for about Rs. 400 per shirt) and beautiful kurtas for you to buy. Then, coats, woollen fabrics, and sweatshirts are hung in order. In between, there are shops where they sell carpets, silk sarees, and shawls.

Apart from all this, several beautiful crafts (carved out of sandalwood and rosewood), brassware and pottery are on display throughout the market. Dilli Haat transports you to a world of Indian art and heritage, presenting you with handicrafts, cuisine and colours.

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Another glimpse at an event due to Durga Pujo celebrations at Dilli Haat.

History and Culture of Dilli Haat

Opened in March 1994, Dilli Haat was joined and established by Delhi Tourism, Government of Delhi, and Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. It is spread over 6 acres of land.

The idea was to cater to the artistic promotion of Indian handloom and textiles among tourists, the middle class, and students. Every 15 days, the crafts persons must seek permission to set up a stall, which is allotted on a rotational basis to craftspeople across India.

Dilli Haat provides an authentic traditional marketplace, a crafts bazaar, so to speak. It is not merely a marketplace, and it is a visualised space for Indian traditional crafts. It allows craftspeople to showcase their artistic skills and talents in their crafts.

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A shop selling handicrafts and other beautiful decorative items.

Dilli Haat holds a unique place in Indian handicraft promotion, offering space for the display of a rich tapestry of artistic diversity. Each of these artistic skills is passed from one generation to another. However, there are significant challenges to the promotion of handicrafts in India—and elsewhere—due to the onslaught of commercial clothing and fast fashion.

Dilli Haat’s unique marketplace allows for both cultural preservation (enabling Indian handicrafts to preserve rich and diverse cultures) and economic empowerment (becoming a source of income for millions of artisans, especially women and the rural poor).

It is noteworthy to mention a few famous Indian handicraft types:

  1. Pashmina shawls from Kashmir
  2. Pottery from Khurja, Uttar Pradesh
  3. Block Printing of Jaipur, Rajasthan
  4. Chikankari designs from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
  5. Bidriware from Bidar, Karnataka
  6. Dhokra metal crafts from Bastar, Chattisgarh
  7. Madhubani paintings from Bihar
  8. Kanchipuram silk sarees of Tamil Nadu
  9. Terracotta pottery from West Bengal

These are some of the famous handicraft types that are on display in various stalls in Dilli Haat.

Food stalls and cuisine

Apart from all the crafty stuff you find, there is also food—so much food. Dilli Haat hosts food stalls from various states of India. There are food stalls from Kashmir, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim, Manipur, Tripura, and Rajasthan among others.

As one navigates through the market, there is, in the middle of the market, a sprawling set of food stalls of different states. They have a unique set of seating arrangements suited to display the authenticity of their state. The glassed table’s interiors displayed spices and pulses in one of the food stalls. 

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Three clueless customers are looking at keychains, earrings, headbands, and ear pins to purchase.

Dilli Haat is the best place to buy a bunch of things (as birthday/anniversary gifts) for your friends and family. You can purchase little colourful crafts, clothes, and succulents for them.

You may also buy homemade pickles (of variety) and chips. As you move through the lanes of the market, I am sure you will lose track of time.

what do you think of the above post?